Investigators searching near Topaz Mountain in Susan Powell case

W.V. police organize search in area near popular rockhounding site

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 14 2011 12:52 a.m. MDT

Officials search in the area of Topaz Mountain, in Juab County, as they follow up on information regarding the Susan Powell missing person investigation, Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2011.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

DELTA — Investigators searched for missing West Valley mother Susan Cox Powell near Topaz Mountain in Juab County Tuesday but left with no new clues as to where she is or what happened to her.

The team of about 20 investigators planned to continue conducting a grid search of the area west of Nephi and northwest of Delta Wednesday.

"Basically the information we have received during the investigation says there is a possibility we might find something here," West Valley Police Lt. Bill Merritt said. "We are not coming out here saying that we will, but we are hoping, fairly confident there may be something of value here. We don't know for sure.

"We may leave empty handed, but it's worth our time being out here."

Cadaver dogs are being used in the searches. Deputies from the Juab and Carbon County sheriff's offices were assisting.

"The police called us this morning and told us they were going to be doing a fairly extensive search. They didn't say what they expected to find," Chuck Cox, Susan Powell's father, said Tuesday.

Topaz Mountain is less than 30 miles from Simpson Springs, the place Josh Powell told investigators he went camping with his two young sons early in the morning on Dec. 7, 2009, during a snowstorm when temperatures reached only in the single digits. He said he returned home the next day to find his wife gone.

On Aug. 25, detectives from the West Valley Police Department with assistance from the Pierce County Sheriff's Office in Washington drove to Puyallup, Wash., to serve a search warrant on the home of husband Josh Powell and his father, Steve Powell.

On Aug. 19 and 20, a team of West Valley investigators searched abandoned mine shafts in the mountains outside of Ely, Nev.

There are several abandoned mines in and around Topaz Mountain.

"Today we weren't in any mines. Yesterday we were," Merritt said Tuesday, adding that investigators planned to search more of those abandoned mines on Wednesday.

Cox said police were using a lot of manpower "to make sure they cleared that area," similar to what they did in Ely.

As for the use of cadaver dogs, Cox said he remains hopeful his daughter is alive but understands the reality of the situation. He said he only expects to hear an update from police if a significant find is made.

"We're happy the police are back to searching areas. We hope they're successful," he said.

Susan Cox Powell was last seen at her home on Dec. 6, 2009. Her husband, Josh Powell, remains the lone person of interest in the case because of his refusal to cooperate with authorities.

Since her disappearance, Josh Powell has moved back to his hometown of Puyallup, Wash., and he and his father have become entangled in a bitter dispute with Cox.

Susan Cox Powell's parents are trying to prevent Stephen Powell from publishing their daughter's childhood diaries. Josh Powell earlier filed a restraining order against Chuck Cox that included Cox's grandsons.

Topaz Mountain is a popular recreation area and police hope that may help them bring in new leads in the case.

"That's what we are hoping, that someone will call in and say there is something we need to be looking into," Merritt said.

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com, Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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